January 30, 2013
LIMA — The Maire family — siblings Edward, Frank, Louisa and Frances — had a new addition. Frank Maire married Pearl Grosjean in 1912, in a bit of surprise news as the siblings were extremely close and appeared happy with their current lifestyle of living together.
Frank Maire couldn’t be too far from his beloved family, so he and his wife moved into a home next door to the siblings. The wife, at least to the public, appeared to be well accepted into the family, as Pearl and Julia Maire were listed as working together to organize the Bird Lovers’ League in a 1913 newspaper.
The Maires had bolstered their considerable wealth in the Lima oil and gas fields, and with continued business and investments in real estate, had become a very well-heeled family indeed.
The Roth-Argue-Maire Bros. Oil Co. sold all of its holdings in the Oklahoma oil fields in 1911, the Lima Daily News reported in a March 3 story.
“The local company was organized shortly after the active opening of the Kansas and Oklahoma fields, and their operations proved successful. The property sold consists of about 10,000 acres of leases, 100 producing wells with a daily production of about 1,000 bbls. The consideration is not given out, but is said to be in the neighborhood of $400,000,” the story reported.
The same story also listed that Edward Maire was in Bartlesville, Okla., working to build a $125,000 hotel that would bear the family name. It was electrified, and a year after the stock market crash, the owners installed air conditioning, according to a 2011 story in The Journal Record.
But the Maires had not forgotten Lima. Edward and Frank Maire were on a committee to direct help where it was most needed during the 1913 Lima flood, and Frank Maire continued on after that to help with improvements to the Ottawa River.
“The magnitude of the work before us is not realized at the beginning but will become more apparent as we progress in this very important mission,” Frank Maire said in a Lima Times Democrat story April 24, 1913. “This is an enormous proposition and it will require much careful study and no little money to carry it out to a satisfactory conclusion.”
Frank Maire also remained involved in the Lima Progressive Association, the body that became the chamber of commerce in 1914. The group courted John North Willys to try to procure a Willys-Gramm Motor Trucks plant being built here, and it lobbied for the Lincoln Highway coming through this area, among many other things. The group, under Frank's leadership, recommended a city manager form of government for Lima in late 1914, causing an uproar among the city’s working class, so the idea was dropped.
Frank Maire was also involved in the city hospital, he backed a newspaper called the Star, and was president of Old National Bank.
Frances Maire was very involved in the Visiting Nurse Association, promoting the need in the city for better medical care.
“No woman is better known over the city than Miss Maire,” a Jan. 14, 1916, story reported. “Since having taken charge of the work of the Lima Instructive Visiting Nurse Association in the capacity of its vice president, she has worked very hard and each year is in charge of the sale of Red Cross stamps, which goes to aid the work. She is a character much loved and an artist of ability herself. At a recent exhibit of paintings by Lima artists, those submitted by Miss Maire received much favorable commendation.”
“Our nurse goes anywhere in the city and into the homes of white or colored people, foreign or American born, Protestant, Catholic or Hebrew,” Frances Maire said in a story published Oct. 30, 1916. “We shall be glad to have our nurse drop around to this woman’s home, talk over the situation with her and care for the mother and child.”
Both Frank and Frances Maire also helped with the United Fund, an early form of today’s United Way of Greater Lima. They didn’t support with their checkbooks only; Frank Maire is mentioned as helping scoop potatoes out of sacks to put into charity baskets in a Dec. 24, 1914, story.
Pearl Maire, Frank’s wife, was president of the Arbutus Club. Club members discussed art, literature, current events and other items meant to make a well-rounded person. Julia Maire was involved with the St. Agatha’s Guild of Christ Church Episcopal in addition to the Arbutus Club.
Edward Maire continued with real estate interests, organizing the Jackson-Lincoln Hotel Co. in 1914 to build at Union and High streets and buying the Keystone building on West High and Elizabeth (today’s Argonne Hotel), “considered one of the best locations in the city,” a Feb. 8, 1916, story reported. He was also involved in the Deisel Co., the chautauqua, Lima Trust Co., YMCA and more.
Edward Maire also continued to be interested in horse races. A society note published Sept. 23, 1915, gives a glimpse:
“Edward Maire and Dr. F.S. Butler motored to Columbus today in the Maire machine, to attend the grand circuit races being held in that city this week.”
An ad published Sept. 10, 1918, lists Edward Maire as speed superintendent at the Allen County Fair.
And the Maire Bros. continued to drill, installing a rig in Auglaize County in 1916.
But on Dec. 4, 1917, bad news: Julia Maire died at age 54 of a heart attack. She was buried in the family mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery. Her estate was not publicly reported.
Edward Maire died in March 1923 at age 56 while at the family vacation home in Miami, Fla.
“Death was due to an internal trouble, from which he had been suffering for some time. He went to Florida about a month ago, hoping that the change of climate would benefit his physical condition. Deceased was extensively interested in the oil business, was a large holder of real estate and interested in various enterprises here and elsewhere,” a Lima News story reported March 26, 1923.
“He was stricken with an attack of stomach trouble Sunday and his condition continued to grow worse until death,” a Lima Republican Gazette story reported March 27, 1923, adding the detail that Frances was at his bedside. He also is interred at Woodlawn.
The papers were in a frenzy at the thought of the estate, which was valued at $559,390.12, and it was heavily reported. Secretary Harold Smith received $10,000, Frances Maire received the house and its contents, the hospital and YMCA received $5,000 each, and Frank and Frances Maire would share the remainder.
Frank Maire did not rest. Even while on vacation, he added to his real estate holdings in Miami while visiting, an April 9, 1925, story reported. Later that year, he sold a property on Miami Beach that he and his brother had purchased seven years prior for $8,000. It sold for $67,700.
And in 1925, he was listed as vice president of Gro-Cord Sole and Heel Co. J.E. Grosjean — his father in law — invented a type of rubber sole that was used on work boots.
At Old National Bank, Frank Maire personally shook the hands of some 10,000 people touring the new bank high rise, today’s Cook Tower or Chase Bank building.
His sister, Frances, organized an art exhibition at the bank on behalf of the Lima Federation of Women’s Clubs.
A Jan. 12, 1927, report of that exhibition:
“Miss Maire’s paintings are poetic. Sometimes it is a lyrical moment when the sea shines through a harp of birches or perhaps it is epic, when giant oaks stand staunchly in a deep forest. Trees and water are her favorite subjects. In an interpretation of the seashore, three simple bands of color stretch across the canvas for earth, sea and sand. In this manner, composition is always treated by Miss Maire. How she simplifies objects even in the treatment of a thick woods is worth studying. In one particular interpretation of a woods, masses are reduced to their minimum and the colors are delicate with a flare of salmon leaves. Trees, water or a wooded path, there is always a quiet, unobtrusive joy in all her compositions.”
She died about a month later at age 63 of a stroke.
“At the time of her death, she was making plans to open a studio on the top floor of the Old National City Bank building where she was to have given instruction free of charge to young persons interested in the study of art,” a Feb. 11, 1927, story reported.
Her estate was valued at $375,810, and it went to Frank and Pearl Maire. He paid $14,926.87 in inheritance tax to the county auditor, a story reported June 13, 1927.
Frank Maire died in May 1938 of a heart attack in a hotel room in Iola, Kansas. He and his wife were traveling to Tulsa for the American Petroleum Institute. He joined his siblings in the family vault.
“It is general knowledge that the Lima man accumulated a sizable competence during his life time,” a June 10, 1938, story reported. The estate was appraised at $254,706.
Secretary Harold Smith was again in the money, having worked for the family for 37 years. Another secretary was to receive $1,000, but she had quit so she didn’t receive it.
Pearl Maire’s father, James E. Grosjean died in 1938, and mother Nancy died in 1943. Pearl Maire died in 1958 at age 72 of a heart attack, having moved out of the Maire home years prior. Her estate was valued at $790,456. The Maire homes are now gone, razed for gas stations and grocery stores.
The last connection to the family was the faithful secretary, Harold Smith. His funeral was held Sept. 24, 1958.
Many a business around Lima can boast the Maires as benefactors. Although Frank and Pearl Maire were childless, the name certainly lives on.